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Aside From That, Gen. Custer

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

CNN was agog (not a word I get to use in a sentence every day) with the results of a new poll released right before Christmas that showed President Barack Obama's job approval ratings shooting up in the polls.


The apogee of the shot?

48 percent.

No, the ratings didn't rise by 48 percentage points, they rose to 48 percentage points meaning, a majority of Americans still do not approve of the job the President is doing.

I was on CNN Friday morning with one of my favorite debate partners, Maria Cardona, who proclaimed the clouds having parted and the sun now shining on a most deserving Obama Presidency.

A good part of the reason, I believe, the President's numbers are moving up is the growing sense of optimism about the economy.

The reason for that? Not clever nor creative moves by the White House or the Department of the Treasury. Not the typically Kremlin-esque statements from the Fed. Not last minute maneuvering in the U.S. Senate by outgoing majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev).

The reason people feel better about the economy is because gasoline prices have receded from $3.30 a year ago, to $2.30 this week.

A buck a gallon is a real number that people - especially people whose paychecks barely make it to the end of the pay period - see immediately.

The value of the Ruble against the Dollar? Um.

Better job numbers? Good for them, but I already have a job and can't stretch my paycheck.

Stock market averages at record highs? Good for Wall Street. Not much meaning on my street.

The reason gasoline prices have fallen so dramatically falls squarely on American entrepreneurs in the oil and gas business.


Remembering that I do some work for T. Boone Pickens, I have written about the state of the oil and gas industry for the past six years and have learned a little about it.

The "F" word - fracking - has helped create a world-wide glut of oil. Saudi Arabic has, for the past forty years, been manipulating oil prices through controlling its world-leading production. But, it can't move the needle against the astonishing amount of oil being produced from traditional drilling and by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the huge shale deposits under the North American continent by U.S. oil companies.

Slowdowns in the economies of China, the EU, and elsewhere have added to the inventory imbalance, but without American drilling the Saudis would still be able to control the price.

So, it's not President Obama, but the industry most often vilified by his Administration that has raised his approval ratings to their stratospheric heights.

I also pointed out that in Major League Baseball there is a concept known as the "Mendoza Line." That is named for life-time .200 hitter Minnie Mendoza. Any time a player's batting average at any level in professional baseball dips toward .200 he is said to be flirting with the "Mendoza Line."

Assuming the political equivalent of the Mendoza Line is 50 percent, the President is still under water.

Maria said that only 36 percent of voters came out to the polls in November implying that the results don't really count.


I'm not sure how Republicans allowed that to become the Democratic rallying cry for the final 60 days of the year.

If the Democrats, through their actions, their policies, and their rhetoric were unable to - forget excite their base - but couldn't even interest their base in coming to the polls, how did that become a problem for Republicans?

I pointed out that before Democrats proclaim 2014 the "Year of Obama" and do the Ren & Stimpy Dance of Joy they would do well to remember that on his watch, Democrats have lost in the neighborhood of 85 seats in the U.S. House and 14 seats in the U.S. Senate which includes the loss of majorities in both chambers.

In 2014 Democrats, under the leadership of Barack Obama, lost seats at every level of government - Federal, Governors, and State House and Senate chambers.

I said that calling 2014 a good year for President Obama was the equivalent of saying "Aside from that, General Custer, how was your trip to the Little Big Horn?"

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